Few people would disagree that hunting for an apartment is the worst. I’m now on my eighth city apartment so I’m pretty opionionated about what’s important to me. The first thing I look for is something within my budget but after that my deal breaker list goes like this (in order of importance:)
1. Location: Must be in a fun location, with a fast commute. We don’t get out as much with kids so it is important to live in a fun neighborhood, the easier it is to go out the more you’ll do it.
2. Light: I lived in a cheap but dark apartment for three years and will never again. Natural light is higher on my list than a large apartment or laundry! My mood depends on it.
Click through for the rest of the list.
3. Space: Our family needs two bedrooms or sleeping areas. We currently live in a small apartment but I don’t think we could do a studio unless it was huge.
4. Architectural Details: Wood floors, moulding etc. This stuff makes such a difference in making a house look good.
5. Parking: This wasn’t as important to us before we had kids but now it makes us way more likely to get out and enjoy the city if we know we already have a parking spot.
6. Dishwasher: I haven’t lived in a house with a dishwasher since I left home at 18! I have dreams about them.
7. View: I would love an apartment with a view but I’ve never lived in place with a really great one.
8. Laundry: Coin laundry costs our family about $20/week and hiring out wash and fold costs about $50/week so we do the math and see if it is worth it to get laundry in our apartment and pay a little more in rent. (Sometimes hiring it out is cheaper and then you never have to do your laundry!)
9. Backyard: This is nice but lower on our list.
10. Fireplace: I had an awesome apartment with a fireplace and it made the grey winter so much better!
I have friends who only care about the size and other friends who won’t move in a place without parking. For me Location and Light are at the top. I think it is important to make a list because when you are looking at places you can figure out what you are willing to negotiate on and what is really important. For us we ended up compromising on space size in order to get a lot of other perks. What about you? Whats on your apartment deal breaker list?
ps: If you are new to SF and are looking for neighborhoods my personal favorites are: The Mission near Dolores Park, Cole Valley, Hayes Valley, The Castro, Duboce Triangle, Lower Haight, and Noe Valley. These neighborhoods are nice but not too fancy but have stores and restaurants nearby.
Photo by Heather Zweig for Oh Happy Day